Having a strong influence in the workplace is crucial to your career success. It allows you to impact your team’s decisions, gain peer and superior support, and ultimately move up the ladder. The need to start initiatives will arise, especially if you are in a leadership role. The level of influence you have over your team will determine the level of support you receive.
Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell and author of Leading Through a Pandemic, says, “Leadership is about influence; it’s about getting people to believe what you believe in”. Dowling says, “I fundamentally believe that people want to follow if they believe. If they feel there’s a connection between what you’re selling and what they believe.”
Building influence at work takes work. It requires a lot of effort, patience, and strategy. In this article, we’ll look at how you can get people to believe in something and ultimately increase your influence at work.
Build a strong network.
Some experts define influence as a form of social capital. It means that the more people you know and the stronger your relationships with them, the more influential you’ll be. You need to focus on quality and diversity to build a strong network.
Quality means developing meaningful relationships with people who can provide valuable insights, advice, and support. Diversity means that you need to expand your network beyond your immediate team or department. Try to connect with people from different functions, levels, and backgrounds. This will give you a broader perspective on the organisation and increase your visibility.
Speak up and share your ideas.
Another way to increase your influence at work is to speak up confidently and share your ideas. Many people hesitate to do so, fearing that their ideas will be rejected or that they’ll look foolish. However, if you don’t speak up, you’ll seize opportunities to showcase your expertise and make a difference.
You should start by identifying the areas where you can add value and then share your insights and recommendations with your team or manager.
Be prepared to support your ideas with data and examples, and listen to feedback. If your thoughts are well-received, you’ll gain credibility and respect.
Speaking on how great leaders communicate, Simon Sinek says, “Great leaders can paint a picture of a future state that does not yet exist, a world so clear that we can imagine it ourselves, and if that chord drives us, we want to commit ourselves to building that world”. This vivid method of sharing your ideas can help you get the desired actions from your team.
Be a problem solver
To be influential, you need to be seen as a problem solver. That means you must focus on finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems.
You should approach problems with a curious and open mind, seeking to understand the root causes and exploring different options. Be bold and ask questions, challenge assumptions, and collaborate with others. When you solve problems, you demonstrate your value to the organisation and gain the trust of your colleagues.
Develop your communication skills.
Communication is vital to building influence. You need to articulate your ideas clearly, listen actively to others, and adapt your communication style to different audiences.
To improve your communication skills, you can seek feedback from others, practice active listening, and work on your nonverbal cues. You should also learn to communicate with impact, using stories, metaphors, and analogies to make your message more memorable.
Build your personal brand.
Finally, to increase your influence at work, you need to build your personal brand. Your personal brand is the image you project to others based on your skills, experience, values, and personality. To develop your personal brand, you can start by defining your strengths and values and then communicating them consistently to others.
You can also seek opportunities to showcase your expertise, such as speaking at conferences, writing articles or blog posts, or participating in industry events. By building your personal brand, you’ll establish yourself as a thought leader in your field and attract more attention and respect.
In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, notes commitment and consistency as critical principles for influencing people. People are more likely to agree to something if it is consistent up to the point that they simply believe it to be accurate or factual.
As you strive to build influence at work, you must work at it as a long-term process requiring much effort and strategy. You can increase your influence and advance your career by building a solid network, speaking up and sharing your ideas, being a problem solver, developing your communication skills, and building your brand. You should also remember to be patient, consistent, and authentic, and you’ll see the results over time.